Tonight’s Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards will be the glitziest event in fashion for a long time coming, but the glamour of the red carpet doesn’t mask a pretty ugly issue: only two of this year’s 19 nominated brands are run by women.
As Thread NY astutely points out, jewelry designer Pamela Love and sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row are the only female designers being recognized for their contributions to the industry tonight. But a lack of female nominees — to say nothing of female winners — is nothing new. In 2009 and 2010, only two of the nominations went to women designers. In 2007, only one nod went to the ladies: sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy were nominated in one lonely category. It’s alarming when you consider that fashion is, for the most part, an industry dedicated to women.
But while there’s no shortage of talented women designers (overwhelmingly, the enrollment at most fashion schools is women, and just try to tell us you’re not regularly stunned by the work of Diane von Furstenberg or Frida Giannini) there are a few things that make it more likely for male designers to get attention, exposure and, most importantly, money. And why’s that? Because dudes who have money tend to invest in other dudes.
“Venture [capitol] has been like a club, where people basically band together with their friends or acquaintances to do deals, and tons of networking applies. Since it was a business started by guys, I think they haven’t gone out of their way to accept women,” says Annette Campbell-White who runs her own venture capital firm. “Women haven’t really had advocates in VC to help push against the glass ceiling.”
So is the answer to this problem more women in control of more purse strings? Because that sounds like a pretty good idea to us.